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Ousmane Willane

Ousmane Willane’ Story

There are many reasons why Ousmane and his family are celebrating and we hope you will too!

Just look at the fruits of his labors. Just look at the size of the trees he has grown over the past 4 years!

As we celebrate our 26th birthday on August 18, we’re also proud of our 26 years of collaboration with the United States Peace Corps. We currently have 15 current and former Peace Corps Volunteers serving critical functions at our headquarters in Silver Spring and in projects in four countries.

“Our technician Omar (left)—whose own land has already flourished into an impressive garden—shows off the tasty products of a cashew tree with Ousmane (right) and his son”

Just last month, through the Peace Corps Response program, we fielded a former Peace Corps Volunteer from Togo who is serving as a Technical Advisor for our projects in Senegal.

You can see the tremendous impact of our collaboration with Peace Corps in Senegal’s growing cashew industry… Each year we grow and plant tens of thousands of cash trees in forest gardens around Senegal, and we’re very active in training farmers for ongoing cashew tree management and marketing.

“Director John Leary gets a look at Ousmane’s cashews during his recent trip to Senegal”

Ousmane Willane is 50 years old and he lives in the village of Keur Lay Lobe, Senegal. There are nine people in his family alone. His uncle died and Ousmane is now taking care of his uncle’s family as well.

“Ousmane holds the youngest in his large household”

So, there are a total of 25 mouths to feed in the household every day! Ousmane went from being a peanut farmer with few options to a forest gardener. Now he’s growing jujube, cashews, mangoes and wide variety of citrus trees. His citrus trees are serving as a source of cuttings for his neighbors, whom he is teaching to graft high-value, delicious fruit trees like mandarin, lime, orange, mango and grapefruit.

He has two Forest Gardens under development, one on the small plot of land just behind his family compound. That is where he has the highest value of vegetables and fruit trees. His second Forest Garden covers a two-acre plot. Four years ago, that land was totally bare.

Enough years of killing himself in crop fields made Ousmane turn to the forest garden. And he is so glad he did! Last year he made $1,100 from the same field that struggled to produce $400 in peanuts in previous years.

In addition to gardens of beans and hot peppers that grow among the trees, he also grows small plots of peanuts, millet and maize. And with the proceeds of his Forest Garden, he was able to purchase 1 horse, 2 new sheep and a horse cart to transfer products to market.

“The increased income has allowed Ousmane to make other investments for his farm”

Not only does this diversity in production bring the Willane family a lot more income, but they now also have diverse foods to eat.

As you know, it’s especially critical that all young children eat a lot of nutritious food before the age of 2 while the brains are developing… So, rather than just being a peanut farmer with a small income and only one crop, Ousmane can provide vitamin-rich fruits for his kids.

“Ousmane’s son eats a jujube apple rich in vitamin C”

The story of  and his family is a beautiful example of the collaboration between the Trees for the Future and the Peace Corps.

“Ousmane tastes a jujube in his forest garden”

Together, we have worked extensively in Senegal to develop various aspects of the cashew supply chain in Senegal: farmer agroforestry training, seed selection, seedling production, marketing.

And Ousmane now serves as lead farmer for both Trees for the Future’s and Peace Corps’ training program.

Why is he willing to volunteer for two organizations? Because his Forest Garden is permanent and life-changing, and he wants everyone in his community to grow one. As we graduate Ousmane out of the 4-year program, we celebrate that farmers like Ousmane — and his adorable kids — can now truly taste the fruits of their labors.

“A child feeds jujube to the horse”

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